Tonight you won the battle of getting your child to bed on time, and you can get back to your Fantasy Basketball League without any interruptions — congrats! But it isn’t always so easy. Most parents struggle to keep their children on a strict bedtime schedule, in addition to ensuring they maximize their amount of sleep each night. We all know that for parents, relaxing is hard work. But this is one less thing to lose sleep over (literally)!
Check out these three simple tips to making bed time less exhausting:
Our bodies crave consistency, so experts recommend customizing a bedtime routine for your little one. Sometimes we can’t control their daily schedules, but a good rule of thumb is to aim to have them wake up at the same time every day, and go to sleep at the same time every night.
Also, before bed, creating a consistent wind down routine can be helpful in preparing your child mentally, and physically for sleep. For example, after dinner schedule bath time, followed by a bottle of warm milk, story time, one last trip to the bathroom, and finally, lullabies or prayers. Overtime, your child’s mind and body will recognize these activities as signals it’s time to prep for sleep.
2. Prepare For The Worst
Be prepared for what may happen after you’ve tucked your child into bed. From bed-wetting to nightmares, you and your child are bound to face sleep disruptions together. Here are a few useful tips we’ve found for common sleep challenges:
- Bed-Wetting: If your child is going through a bed-wetting, take precaution and get a waterproof mattress protector! This will prevent liquid from seeping into your mattress, thus lengthening it’s lifespan. One hack to making cleanup easier is adding an additional layer of sheets under the mattress protector. That way if your child has an accident, you can quickly strip away the soiled layers, leaving behind the following layer of clean sheets. This everyone can go back to sleep quickly and you can deal with the dirty laundry in the morning.
- Nightmares: Setting some time aside before bedtime to listen and talk about your child’s day might be helpful for them to learn how to manage emotions. If they are able to talk through their fears, this may keep their worries away from creeping into their dreams. However, if a nightmares happen on a regular basis, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that parents keep their children from watching any scary television that may provoke feelings of fear and get their children assimilated to sleeping alone in the dark by playing games in a dark room. Another solution is to installing nightlights throughout the room to help sway negative emotions if they wake from a bad dream.
3. Battling the Bedtime Tantrum
Children love to test boundaries, which makes it important for parents to establish firm rules and limits at a young age. Unfortunately, the cutest age is also the age where tantrums are most prevalent (1-3 years old). But don’t worry, here are a few helpful tips to help you deal with tantrums like a pro:
a. Positive Reinforcement: Make sure your child is rewarded for good behavior. Soon they will be able to spot the difference between behaviors that are rewarded versus those that are not.
b. Give Them Choices At Bedtime: Maybe your child doesn’t want to go to bed, but chances are they will want to pick out the pajamas they wear, the flavor of toothpaste they use to brush their teeth, or their bedtime story. Add some diversity so that they are excited for bedtime, instead of treating it as a chore.
c. What NOT to Do: Do not reward your child’s tantrum by giving in. Sometimes it’s easier, and a time saver to avoid the headache of arguing with your child, however this will only prove to your child that the tantrum was effective and increase the likelihood of it happening next time.
Bedtime will never be a walk in the park, but the good news is that it gets easier with every kid. After all, bedtime isn’t something to lose sleep over.